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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Saturday, June 16, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector. - Plato

Current Racing

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Tour de Suisse Stage seven team reports

We posted the report from the race organizer with the results.

Here's the report from stage winner Nairo Quintana's Movistar team:

Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) claimed one of his most brilliant wins as a pro during Friday’s stage seven of the 2018 Tour de Suisse. Enormous climbing quality and power, combined with a well-driven Telefónica-backed squad in the key phases of the race, saw the Colombian taking to fruition a 30km attack into the long Arosa climb to open his victory account of the current season.

As Víctor de la Parte made part of the big breakaway -29 riders- which led for almost the entire stage and Daniele Bennati keeping gaps close at the main group, Quintana did not hesitate to jump off the front of the GC group at the foot of the first of two tough sections in the climb, quickly overtaking many of the escapees. The Blues’ strategy started to pay off as, when Nairo already had 25″ on race leader Richie Porte (BMC) and other contenders -including Mikel Landa-, De la Parte was joined by Nairo and started taking big turns which helped the Colombian easing off before the finale. Back at group two, Landa attacked to try and break the pace by Greg Van Avermaet (BMC), who was still able to get his leader to just 20″ behind at the start of the final kick uphill (4km to go).

Porte couldn’t ultimately bridge back in those final kilometers to Quintana, who raised his arms victorious for the 38th time as professional rider, bringing the Movistar Team up to 20 wins in 2018 in the process. Nairo climbs up to 2nd overall, 17″ behind Porte, before the last two stages in Bellinzona: a semi-urban circuit for the sprinters (123km), on Saturday, and a decisive, 34-kilometer ITT on Sunday.

Niaro Quintana

Nairo Quintana has the finish line all to himself.

Nairo Quintana:
“I wanted to see what my real form was, and fortunately, I’m feeling great at the moment! The team’s work was really good, with everyone taking efforts from the very beginning of the stage and as far as they could. We put Bennati to push at the front of the bunch on the flat before the climb, trying to keep the breakaway close and taking advantage from Víctor’s position to bridge back and get further. De la Parte was fundamental up there on the flat between the climbs, pushing as much as he could for as long as possible. And in the end, it was my task – Mikel was also trying to attack the GC group and destroy the pace by BMC, just like I asked him to do.

“The whole strategy worked well, and it makes us happy, both the team and myself, to get things working and also being able to bring a victory to our DS José Luis Arrieta, who was celebrating his birthday in the team car today. It also goes to all of my team-mates, because they were superb today.

“It’s important for one’s own body and the whole squad to see ourselves doing great before the Tour de France. It was a big test for us today, and there’s another one awaiting on Sunday. We’ll have to ride strong on the flat, defend ourselves well and do our best. These nine days of racing have helped us building up calmly for July, and hopefully they’ll bring us some luck, too!”

Here's the update from race leader Richie Porte's BMC team:

15 June, 2018, Arosa (SUI): Strong teamwork and good legs from Richie Porte saw the Australian climb to third place on the Arosa summit finish on stage 7 of the Tour de Suisse, to retain the race lead with two stages remaining.

As was the case on stage 6, a large breakaway of 29 riders, including Greg Van Avermaet, went clear in the first 10km approaching the category three climb and with the closest rider on the General Classification sitting two minutes behind Porte, BMC Racing Team allowed the group to establish their advantage.

Despite working for the whole stage yesterday, Michael Schär and Alessandro De Marchi led the peloton and set a fast pace to keep the breakaway to within three minutes in the first half of the race.

Porte remained tucked away and out of trouble in the BMC Racing Team train at the front of the group and with a tail win behind the bunch on the long run into the climb to Arosa, the riders set a blistering pace to arrive at the foot of the climb in no time.

Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) attacked as soon as the road began to rise, forcing Porte to react and bridge across to the Colombian before Quintana attacked once more to open up a gap. Tejay van Garderen made his way back to Porte's group to help with the chase and helped to bring Quintana's advantage down to 20 seconds, and once the American swung off Van Avermaet dropped back from the breakaway to help set the pace.

Up ahead, Quintana made contact with the remaining breakaway riders and held a 40-second advantage with 15km to go but with no help at the front of the race, it became a rider against rider battle between Quintana and Van Avermaet, who led both groups up the climb respectively.

The gradient decreased for the next 10km and Van Avermaet put in everything he had in an outstanding display of teamwork to bring the gap back to 25 seconds with 7km remaining, with Porte on his wheel. Van Avermaet mustered every bit of energy he had left to increase the pace and put riders in difficulty, which allowed Porte to make his move and break away from the group with 4.3km to go.

Porte quickly began to catch riders in front until it was only Quintana ahead of him in the final 3km, and when Jacob Fulgsang (Astana Pro Team) bridged to Porte the two riders were able to work together to bring Quintana to within 20 seconds.

Quintana held on to take the win and ten bonus seconds, while Porte crossed the line in third place 22 seconds behind, to pick up four bonus seconds, which sees the Australian carry a 17-second advantage on the General Classification into the last two stages, including the final time trial on Sunday.

Richihe Porte and Jakob Fuglsang

Jakob Fuglsang leads Richie Porte across the line. Sirotti photo.

Richie Porte:
"That was a long climb and I don't think we ever expected Nairo to go that early but that's racing. I wasn't expecting an attack so early on the bottom of the climb but I had Tejay there with me and then a super Greg Van Avermaet, who did a fantastic job for me. I didn't stress too much and I gave it everything so, hats off to Nairo, he was super strong today and I think he thoroughly deserved the stage win. I lost some time on the GC but I'm still looking forward to the time trial. We've still got to get through tomorrow's stage but I think normally I am not a bad time trialist so, I'm here to try and win this race and I think it is looking good now. I'm happy with where my form is at. I was good yesterday as well and I hope to have the legs that I need for Sunday."

"I think Andy Rihs would have been very proud of us at his home race. It's obviously sad to have lost Andy this year. He was probably one of the best sponsors cycling has ever seen and it's hard to replace someone like that. He did so much for us all and was a fantastic character. Hans Rihs, his brother, was at the race yesterday and it was nice to see that he still has the same enthusiasm."

Gregor Mühlberger's Bora-hansgrohe team sent me this report:

It was a big day for the GC riders on Tour de Suisse stage 7, as several teams would have their intentions on creating some time gaps as the race draws closer to its end, but it turned out to be a bigger day for BORA-hansgrohe’s Gregor Mühlberger. The Austrian National Champion jumped in the break and helped the escapees to hold their lead most of the stage, but while most breakaway riders caught by attacks from the peloton disappear into the bunch, never to be seen again, Gregor fought on with the GC favourites to take an incredible fourth spot, bettering riders who had saved their energy riding in the bunch the whole day.

The Stage
Today’s penultimate road stage mirrored the parcours of yesterday’s Queen Stage – but while yesterday the day started with a hard Hors Catégorie and ended with a third category climb, today the stage started with the third category Lichtensteig, before building up to the Hors Catégorie finale – the Arosa. The 171km stage was going to hard enough, with many factions in the peloton with their eye on the prize – be it the GC contenders going for extra time or the climbers wanting to go for the stage victory – but at 27.4km long, this final climb was going to be agonising. While the 4.2% average gradient made the ascent look relatively easy, this was deceptive, as the climb was made up of three parts – a steep opening section where ramps hit 10%, before a flat mid-section, and then finally a brutal final few kilometres where the maximum gradient would hit 11%.

The Team Tactics
The last day in the mountains meant there was one chance remaining for the more capable climbers to stretch their legs. Like on yesterday’s stage, a big breakaway was expected, especially when the profile would allow a determined escape to make an impact on the easier terrain at the start of the day. While there was no telling how the stage would unfold on the Arosa, given how difficult it would be to find a rhythm on the climb, as well as the ambitions of the GC riders, the aim today was to make an impact – to get in the breakaway and to take every opportunity that presented itself.

The Race
Stage 7 was the last of the true mountain stages, and would be the final opportunity for the climbers to take a stage win, as well as one of the last real opportunities for the GC riders to create some time gaps before the time trial on stage 9. This ambition in the peloton was obvious as a massive 29 riders jumped in the break. The comparatively flat terrain allowed this group – which included BORA-hansgrohe’s Gregor Mühlberger – to build up a strong advantage, hitting 3:30 at its peak. The stage was quiet until the lower slopes of the Arosa, when attacks from the peloton saw the race really come to life, stringing out the bunch as the pace rose to catch the break. An attack from Quintana quickly passed the tired remnants of the escapees before merging and creating a new lead group, leaving the yellow jersey down the road. In spite of a day in the break, the Austrian National Champion, Gregor Mühlberger, stuck to the wheel of Quintana, and was the sole original member of the breakaway who had been able to stay with the fresher legs of the Colombian rider, before finally dropping away with just 2km to go. Pushing on to take fourth Gregor, showed he had the ability to stay with the GC riders – riding even stronger than those who had saved their legs in the peloton.

From the Finish Line
"Initially, I thought the group was too big and there wouldn't be much collaboration in it. On the hilly parts it was the case but then in the valley, Sky committed themselves and the group found a rhythm. I knew there was a chance of us going on the final climb but in the first section, I really struggled and had to suffer a lot. When Quintana closed in on us, I had some time to recover on the flat parts and my legs got better. With 3km to go, I thought I could win but I think I still miss that final 3% to reach my peak form, so I wasn't able to follow Quintana in the last 2km. However, this 4th place is a welcome confidence boost and it shows my preparation towards the Tour de France is on the right track. I am very tired right now but very happy as well!!" – Gregor Mühlberger, Austrian National Champion

"That was a truly powerful ride by Gregor, he was very strong today! As we had planned, he joined the big group of escapees and worked there, putting on a strong effort. He was there nearly all the way to the finish, up on the hard climb to Arosa. He showed he had strong legs and although he wasn't able to hold on to Quintana and Porte in the final 2km, I think his 4th place and his performance today are encouraging and promising for this young rider." – Enrico Poitschke, Sports Director 

Sarah Roy wins stage three of OVO Energy Women's Tour

Sarah Roy's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this report:

A stage winner in 2017, Australian Sarah Roy has repeated the feat for Mitchelton-SCOTT on stage three of the OVO Energy Women’s Tour, sprinting to the win from a reduced leading group in Royal Leamington Spa.

A fast and undulating stage saw numerous attacks throughout before the peloton split for good over the closing kilometres with yesterday’s fifth place finisher Gracie Elvin alongside Roy, Alex Manly and Georgia Williams in the leading group.

With tension building and more attacks springing into the final, the group came back together for the bunch kick with Roy producing a dominant ride for the Australian outfit's second stage win at this year’s race after Jolien D’hoore’s victory on stage one.

Decisive moments:
Another day of rolling roads across the narrow lanes of the British countryside saw the plenty of early attacks, but all marked closely by the peloton until two riders managed to go clear with around 90kilometres left to race.

Gaining close to four minutes on the bunch the duo was chased by a lone pursuer for a while before being swallowed by the peloton close to Holloway Hill with 60kilometres left to race. The gap to the leading pair started to fall over the final 45kilometres and they were caught by the peloton close to Edge Hill as the pace ramped up significantly.

Attacks continued to fly splitting the peloton in two with Elvin, Manly, Williams and Roy all part of a 35-rider front group that flew towards the finish at Royal Leamington Spa and despite more action it was a compact group that held together after great work by Mitchelton-SCOTT marking the attacks.

Manly drove Roy into a good position through the final corners and the 32-year-old did the rest, jumping from Marianne Vos’s wheel to take a great win.

Sarah Roy – Stage Winner:
“I really didn’t expect this today and as always the whole team was amazing. Alex, Georgia and Gracie were all with me in that leading group and did such a great job of shutting moves down and then Alex produced a super strong effort to get me into a perfect position for the sprint.”

“We rode like a well-oiled machine out there today and we just knew the right things to do at the right time, it came together really well. The last few climbs were steep and really tough and at 150kilometres it was a long day out and it’s pretty cool to get the win.

“Jolien was in the second group behind us and she came in on the radio before we hit the final and told me to get on third wheel before the last corner and I focused on that, her coaching really helped today, but I am super impressed with how Alex rode, she was awesome in the final.”

Sport director Martin Vestby:
“What can I say? The team are going so well at the moment and the trust they are showing each other is really impressive. They made great decisions out on the road and sometimes when you have options it can be complicated, and it comes down to the race situation and what decisions are made on the road and the team are certainly making the right ones.

“After starting so well with Jolien’s win on stage one we thought we could relax a little and the pressure was off, but the girls have kept pushing and they were brilliant again today.”

OVO Energy Women’s Tour stage three results:

1. Sarah Roy (Mitchelton-SCOTT) 03:55:09
2. Giorgia Bronzini (Cylance-Pro-Cycling) ST
3. Marianne Vos (WaowDeals-Pro-Cycling) ST

General Classification after stage three:

1. Coryn Rivera (Team-Sunweb) 11:17:27
2. Marianne Vos (WaowDeals-Pro-Cycling) +0:16
3. Danielle Roy (WaowDeals-Pro-Cycling) +0:20

Kentucky man convicted of selling counterfeit helmets on eBay

Bicycle Retailer & Industry News sent me this important story:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BRAIN) — After a four-day trial, Matthew S. Stepp of Shepherdsville, Kentucky, was found guilty Friday of eight counts of mail fraud and three counts of trafficking in counterfeit goods for selling counterfeit high-end bike helmets on eBay.

U.S. Attorney Russell M. Coleman of the Western District of Kentucky announced the conviction. Sentencing is scheduled for September.

"What might appear on its face to be an esoteric white collar prosecution is, in fact, an all-out effort to keep kids and families safe," said Coleman "This office will continue to work with our federal law enforcement partners to protect Americans from counterfeit personal safety equipment and companies from theft of their intellectual property."

Stepp was charged with conducting a scheme to defraud consumers by marketing and selling the helmets between May and November 2014. Prosecutors said Stepp had purchased the counterfeit helmets for pennies on the dollar from Ali Express. Stepp was also charged with three counts of trafficking in counterfeit goods.

Stepp's attorneys had argued that Stepp was unaware that the helmets were fake when he bought them and Stepp had filed suit against Ali Express and its parent, Alibaba, in 2014. That suit was later withdrawn.

During the trial, representatives from Specialized testified that in mid-October 2014 they realized that Stepp was marketing counterfeit Specialized S-Works Prevail helmets. Specialized immediately notified eBay and the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center, who immediately contacted Homeland Security Investigations in Louisville. A search warrant was executed at Stepp's home on Nov. 6, 2014, where 45 counterfeit helmets were seized. Additional packages containing counterfeit helmets that Stepp had placed in the mail for delivery were also seized from the Post Office.

During trial, the United States introduced evidence showing that Stepp purchased counterfeit Specialized S-Works Prevail, Giro Aeon, and Catlike Whisper bicycle helmets on Ali Express for between $50 and $70, and sold those helmets on eBay for $150 and more. The retail value of the helmets was over $200.

You can read the entire story here.

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